2.6 Post war and closure – 1946-1988

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

After the war, the Guild might have seemed like a relic of a bygone era. Nevertheless, it soon found its numbers rising. The KilBrides returned from Scotland in 1946, Edward Holloway joined in 1946 as artist and engraver and Kenneth Eager replaced Skelton as apprentice to Cribb.

A meeting of the Guild from around 1960: Joseph Cribb, Stephen Maxwell, Thomas KilBride, Valentine KilBride, Edgar Holloway, Noel Knapp-Tabbenor.

The older generation were now fading from the scene. Gill had died in 1940, Pepler died in 1951, George Maxwell in 1951 and Joseph Cribb in 1967. Reflecting the strength of family life on the common, the younger generation were taking over in some areas. All surviving KilBride children became weavers, son Thomas becoming a Guild member in 1960 and daughter Jenny becoming the first female member in 1970. In addition the carpenters’ workshop had been taken over by George Maxwell’s son John and Dunstan Pruden’s wife Winefride (since 1974, his widow)  had also being granted full membership in 1975. What was to be the final admission to membership took place in 1983; fittingly in view of Edward Johnson’s part in the origin of the Guild, it was to be a calligrapher, KilBride’s grandson, Ewan Clayton.

This litany of comings and goings all revolve around members of existing Guild families, illustrating the declining ability of the community to appeal to the post-war world. An important amendment to the constitution had been made in 1972 which stated that the surplus from winding up the Guild members would benefit Guild members instead of the Dominicans as was previously planned. This change had the effect of discouraging the admittance of new members, as the older members increasingly came to see the Guild assets as their pension fund.

Additionally, the building were in a poor state of repair, something exacerbated by the Great Storm of 1987, and a lot of money needed to rebuild them. Nevertheless, efforts were made to revitalise the Guild with a plan to bring the Ditchling Press back to the Common and open new workshops (including bringing in a stained-glass artist) at the centre of a counter-proposal from younger members, Ewan Clayton and Jenny KilBride. However proposals were turned down by the planing authorities and the issue came to a head in 1988 when an offer was received from a development company for the site. A split vote was passed in favour of sale and the closure of the Guild was filled with acrimony, which meant that it was not possible to save any buildings.

The six Guild members at the end were Ewan Clayton, Kenneth Eager, Edgar Holloway, Jenny KilBride, Winifred Pruden and Thomas KilBride.

Previous page / next page